Requirements for cruise ships entering Australia

Cruise ships are subject to customs, immigration and biosecurity controls when entering and/or departing Australia. This includes requiring permission to enter an Australian Non-Proclaimed First port of Entry and/or to enter subsequent Ports of Call.

Maritime Traveller Processing Committee approval is required for cruise ships wanting to enter seaports other than the Port of:

  • Sydney
  • Melbourne
  • Brisbane (excluding Tangalooma)
  • Cairns (excluding Yorkeys Knob)
  • Port Adelaide
  • Darwin
  • Fremantle
  • Hobart

Cruise ships wanting to arrive, depart or visit any other seaports (including Tangalooma and Yorkeys Knob) must submit a Maritime Traveller Processing Committee application.

Maritime Traveller Processing Committee (MTPC)

The MTPC co-ordinates the exercise of various statutory controls and responsibilities carried out at seaports. One of the MTPC’s functions is to review approval requests from the cruise ship industry to arrive or depart from minor, restricted and non-designated seaports where there is no permanent Department of Home Affairs or Department of Agriculture and Water Resource presence.

The MTPC consists of the:

  • Department of Home Affairs (MTPC Chair)
  • Department of Agriculture and Water Resources
  • Department of Infrastructure and Regional Development
  • Department of Health
  • Australian Trade Commission
  • Australian Federal Police.

Making an application to the MTPC

If MTPC approval is required, cruise ship operators or their agents must provide a written request to the Department of Home Affairs. The MTPC will liaise with relevant border agencies in relation to resource implications and approval, as well as to ascertain the availability and adequacy of existing facilities for processing travellers.

Application process

If MTPC approval is required, cruise ship operators or their agents must submit a written application at least thirty days prior to the arrival and no more than two years in advance. The application form must contain the full itinerary, vessel details and port intentions (for example, passenger/crew exchange, shore excursions, and sail by/anchor only).

Cruise vessels also wanting to apply for round trip cruise status must apply by email to cruiseships@border.gov.au. See the Frequently Asked Questions page for more detailed information.

Further information can be obtained by contacting the MTPC.

Passenger clearance options

The Department of Home Affairs and cruise operators determine the most efficient and effective method of clearance.

Options include:

  • on a wharf, at a dedicated or temporary facility; or
  • on board, while the vessel is alongside; or
  • en route, between the last port overseas and the first port of arrival in Australia.

If you want to request en route clearance, please contact the MTPC.

En route clearances require Australian Border Force officers to join the vessel prior to departure from the last overseas port. The agent or operator is responsible for all costs associated with the officer’s overseas travel including airfares, accommodation, meals and ground transport.

Cruise ship visitors

The cruise ship operator should seek permission from the MTPC at least ten working days prior to inviting visitors to board a cruise ship for a function or other purpose not related directly to the vessel's operations (for example, media events, marketing events or fund raising activities).

Further information can be obtained by contacting the MTPC.

How to contact the MTPC

The MTPC operates Monday – Friday 8.30 am – 4.30 pm (excluding public holidays). You can contact the MTPC by either:

Email and voice mail messages received outside of business hours will be responded to the next business day.